Mary Anne Hitt Named Executive Director

In May, Mary Anne Hitt was named as the new executive director of Appalachian Voices. Matt Wasson, who had served as executive director since December of 2001, stepped down in May to become the organization’s full time conservation director, a position that will better allow him to use his training as an ecologist.

Hitt has worked for Appalachian Voices since 2002, first as development director and then as associate executive director. She has a decade of experience working with nonprofit conservation organizations, including serving as executive director of both the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Ecology Center in Missoula, Montana.

Hitt was raised in the mountains of east Tennessee just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where her father was the chief scientist for ten years. She says, “I’ve loved these mountains deeply since I was a little girl, and I’m honored to be the director of an organization that is doing effective work to tackle the issues everyone in Appalachia cares so much about: mountaintop removal coal mining, air pollution, and the protection of our forests.”

Wasson, who has a Ph.D. in ecology from Cornell University, is looking forward to having more opportunities to put those skills to work as conservation director. “I am really glad to be able to continue working for this excellent organization in a capacity that is more rewarding for me personally, and that uses my skills and training directly,” says Wasson. “We are extraordinarily lucky to have Mary Anne,” Wasson adds, “She’s the ideal person to take this organization and this team to the next level – she’s a natural leader.”

Harvard Ayers, the chairman of Appalachian Voices’ board of directors, welcomes the shift as well. He says, “I’m really pleased at how this organization has grown over the past seven years, and I have full confidence in Mary Anne to make this a more sustainable and more powerful organization.”

Hitt encourages Appalachian Voices members and supporters to contact her about their vision for the future of our region. “Appalachian Voices gains its strength from our supporters,” she says. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead to ensure this organization is a powerful voice for the mountains.”

Hitt can be reached at 828-262-1500 or


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